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The RotoWire Dynasty Invitational team that’ll win me a championship

After almost a month of drafting and 800 picks, the RDI is over. Here’s the team I drafted to help me win the league.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

If you follow dynasty baseball, you might be aware of the industry expert dynasty league that began in late December. The RotoWire Dynasty Invitational brought together 19 other managers in a 20-team, standard roto weeky league hosted on CBS. The common thread among almost all managers was their interest in prospects. Everyone knows their stuff and all are viable resources to help expand your fantasy baseball knowledge both in the big leagues and minor leagues.

To read how I landed the first overall pick, click here. It’s a cool selection format that I advise startup dynasty leagues adopt. Before anything, here is the Google sheet that lists all 800 picks along with Twitter handles of all managers. Finally, here is the first-round breakdown which includes blurbs from every single manager and the reasoning behind their first selection in the draft.

Now, time to dive into my roster. Given how I bid 18 keepers slots for Mike Trout I knew that I was going to be competitive from the get go. Age wasn’t a huge factor for me and only came into consideration when weighing later options in the draft. Here is how I envision my starting lineup from week to week. Round and overall pick next to each name.

C- Robinson Chirinos (22.440)

1B- Rhys Hoskins (3.41)

2B- Robinson Cano (7.121)

3B- Nick Castellanos (5.81)

SS- Marwin Gonzalez (9.161)

CI- Johan Camargo (28.560)

MI- Zack Cozart (15.281)

OF- Mike Trout (1.1), Lorenzo Cain (6.120), Kevin Kiermaier (8.160), David Peralta (17.321), Cameron Maybin (20.400)

UTIL- Jose Pirela (23.441), Brad Miller (24.480)

BN- Denard Span (29.561), Zack Granite (32.640), Jesus Aguilar (37.721)

Offense Thoughts

  • I think overall I did a good job of trying to stay balanced and accumulating a team that isn’t deficient in any one category. I do think I’m a little on the slower end which is why my two of my three bench picks were focused on stolen bases more than anything. I’m particularly excited about Granite. If one of the Twins’ starting outfielders go down, he can provide some really nice returns.
  • My least favorite pick might be a tie between Marwin Gonzalez and Nick Castellanos. Gonzalez could turn in a very boring season (think 15 HR, 4 SB) with OK counting stats. Really, this pick was all about his swiss knife eligibility which is huge in a league this deep. But I wonder if Justin Bour, Steven Souza, Eduardo Nuñez, or Tim Anderson would have been better and more impactful for a ninth-round pick. Castellanos was a bit of a reach but I knew he was not lasting another 40 picks and I wanted a third baseman. I’m banking on his second-half gains being real (.882 OPS, 16 HR, and most importantly raised flyballs from 32% to 43%). But if he turns in another boring season, I could have just drafted Kyle Seager two rounds later.
  • I have a ton of positional eligibility in my infield. Chirinos, Cano, and all my outfielders are the only players that play a single position. Hoskins and Castellanos both have OF eligibility, you already know Marwin, Cozart will gain 3B in April, Camargo has 3B/SS and Brad Miller should earn 1B in addition to 2B. I think this’ll allow me plenty of flexibility with trades and injuries.
  • To learn what you should shoot for in category goals in a 20-team league, just treat it like a 10-team AL/NL-only league. With some tweaking for the current run environment, I aimed for 1100 runs, 230 HR, 980 RBIs, 130 SB, .275 AVG. These aren’t the best in their categories, but all are top five for a 20-team league. Using 2018 Steamer projections for only the starting lineup above, I came up with 957 runs, 265 HR, 957 RBIs, 121 SB and while I didn’t do the weighted average of the group, I’m looking at something in the low .270s. It’s a little pathetic, but Cameron Maybin getting a starting job goes a long way toward reaching my SB and runs goal. Of course, this doesn’t account for lineup switching and (hopefully) experiencing breakout seasons.

Here’s how my weekly pitching looks with my plan of 6 SP and 3 RP:

P- Stephen Strasburg (2.40)

P- Yu Darvish (4.80)

P- Rich Hill (13.241)

P- Michael Wacha (14.280)

P- Tanner Roark (18.360)

P- Tyler Chatwood (19.361)

P- Raisel Iglesias (11.201), Wade Davis (12.240), Shane Greene (21.401)

BN- Carlos Rodon (16.320), Matt Shoemaker (26.520), Zack Wheeler (30.600), Tyler Lyons (33.641)

Pitching Thoughts

  • I really like my starting staff when compared to my competition. Remember this is a 20-team league. Strasburg took a step forward last year and delivered a top-5 SP season. Darvish and Hill had setbacks in performance and health, but both can easily turn in top 20 SP seasons given their history. Michael Wacha had a rough year but all his peripherals are pointing to a generous bounceback. Roark is an innings eater to safeguard against injury from my big three. And Chatwood has some sleeper potential away from Coors Field. Carlos Rodon will start the year on the DL, and he’s maddeningly inconsistent, but a worthy gamble at that spot given his upside and age. Shoemaker should just go back to throwing 99 percent splitters. Wheeler is a major injury risk but has shown success at the major league level, still averages 94 mph and is young.
  • I’m one of five or six managers with at least 2.5 closers. If Greene breaks camp as the de facto closer for Detroit, I become one of only two with three closers. Did it suck drafting them? Yes. Does it give me a good shot at finishing top five in saves? Yes.
  • For pitching I aimed for 90 wins, 80 saves, 3.70 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 1,350Ks. Not including Rodon or Shoemaker, I calculate roughly 77 wins, 1,261 Ks, and 90 saves. Properly rotating two-start weeks from pitchers, avoiding obviously bad matchups, and help from my MiLB squad should help increase these numbers. I’m not inclined to go by Steamer with ratios because it’s famously pessimistic, but I think I’m a tad over the ERA goal and right around the needed WHIP.

Prospects I Drafted

Because of my bid for Trout, I might only be able to keep one or two names from below. At least that’s what I’m expecting. My minors philosophy was either names that could me compete in 2018 or high upside players that can gain helium and be a trade chip in the summer.

  • Luiz Gohara, LHP (10.200) - Gohara was the first prospect I took but I barely consider him as such. The signings of Scott Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy are roadblocks to the rotation in Atlanta, but Kazmir pitched all of 12 innings last season in the minors and McCarthy made it to 99.1 innings. Both will be 34 to start the year and are poster boys for the 10-day DL. Moral of the story, Gohara is going to get at least 15 starts and armed with a wipeout slider and the fastest fastball from a lefty (yes, faster than James Paxton’s), I predict big numbers from him that should help me wean off guys like Chatwood and Roark should they bomb.
  • Stephen Gonsalves, LHP (25.481) - Nowhere near as flashy and constantly underrated, Gonsalves is the antithesis of Gohara. He’s a lefty in the Twins org who throws in the low 90s, has been slowly making his way through the minors (cracked Triple-A at the end of last season) and shouldn’t hurt you in any one area as much as he won’t carry you either. His changeup is his best weapon. I expect him to debut after the All-Star Break and help my rotation.
  • Brent Rooker, OF (27.521) UNLIMITED POWER. OK, kidding. Sort of. Drafted last June out of Mississippi State, Rooker might have had the best showing of any 2017 draftee. He smacked 18 home runs in 62 games between Rookie ball and High-A with a .281/.364/.566 slash line. He’s 23 so you almost expect success at those levels, but I expect the Twins to move him quickly. He should debut by end of 2019.
  • Brusdar Graterol, RHP (31.601) I promise I’m not Minnesota GM Thad Levine. I just love the Minnesota system. Here’s a sleeper article I wrote on Graterol last week. In a nutshell: Potential 80-grade fastball but three other average or better pitches. Still 19, has Tommy John in his history, Twins really think he can be a starter. Massive upside.
  • Zack Granite, OF (32.640) NOT LEVINE, I SWEAR. Similar to Gohara, I don’t view Granite as a prospect. He can be a true burner (56 SB in Double-A in 2016) and walked more than he struck out in his first 107 plate appearances last season. He’s entrenched behind Byron Buxton and Max Kepler, but an injury really opens things up for him and I think he can be a difference maker.
  • Kevin Merrell, SS (34.680) Do you like 80-grade speed from someone who could stick at shortstop, might own an average hit tool and has some pop? Then remember this name for your First-Year Player drafts.
  • Jorge Guzman, RHP (35.681) You might recognize this name as one of the returning pieces the Marlins got for Giancarlo Stanton. Guzman averaged 99 mph on his fastball last year and was showing control in Low-A. That’s scary. He has a ways to go with his secondaries but he’s yet another high-upside arm that could rise fast as he continues performing at higher levels.
  • Kyle Funkhouser, RHP (36.720) Funkhouser survived an elbow scare last season that forced the Detroit Tigers to be cautious and shut him down. All reports say he’s healthy and will be ready to go in 2018. In 12 starts (7 in A-ball, 5 in High-A), he had a 2.44 ERA, 1.15 WHIP with a whopping 11.9 K/9. He’s an extremely underrated prospect who has the stuff to jump back into dynasty league radars if he simply stays healthy.
  • Jose De Leon, RHP (38.760) Speaking of health, De Leon couldn’t buy it even if he were a millionaire. The former top Dodgers prospect is already 25 and has never pitched more than 116 innings in a professional season. Last year he battled forearm soreness that delayed his start to the year, then a strained lat forced him to miss a month and finally elbow tendinitis shut him down. There’s a chance he transitions into the bullpen and that this pick amounts to nothing, but this late in the draft I was willing to gamble on him getting back to his 2016 form when he tormented the PCL and shot up rankings.
  • Tyreque Reed, 1B (39.761) Who? An eighth-round pick out of community college, Reed forced a team to notice him after he finished with an OPS of 1.581. He is also a big boy. He’s listed at 6 foot 2, 260 pounds and uses all of it to get to his 70-grade power. In 35 games with the AZL Rangers, he slashed .350/.455/.617. Next year he’ll jump into full-season ball. This is truly a deep-league name, but consider adding him to your watch list.
  • Wes Rogers, OF (40.800) I considered making Tim Tebow Mr.Irrelevant but decided I should probably take this a bit more seriously. With the final pick of the entire draft I went with someone with 80-grade speed that just finished a 132 wRC+ season with 70 SB and nine home runs. Why is he not getting hype? He repeated High-A last season, is about to turn 24 and played in Lancaster, which is in Cal League. Rogers might be the next coming of Terrance Gore but I’m always willing to bet on speed, especially in the current fantasy environment.

And there you have it! I think I did a good job of building a team that won’t completely collapse come 2019 even after I shed so many players next offseason because of my Trout bid. How do you think I did? Leave a response in the comments. And if you don’t, I’ll just assume you acquiesce my eventual championship.